CDFA Healthy Soils Program 2020

Hello and welcome to our Healthy Soils reference page!

You have reached this page because you are interested in applying to the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s  Healthy Soils Program. The program information shown on this page will provide agricultural producers with management practice and plant information that is specific to Marin County. Thank you for being one of several producers making a difference by improving the health of our soils!

STEP 1: Application

Click here for more information about the Application Process
  • Max Grant Amount: $100,000
  • Final Date to Submit Application: June 26th 2020, 5PM
    • Application submission, review and award notifications will be on a rolling basis meaning the grant is first come first serve until June 26th, or until the $25.2 million of available funds has been awarded.
  • Cost sharing (matching funds or in-kind contributions) is not required but encouraged.
  • Before you get started: it is important to note that the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA’s) Healthy Soils Program documents are the primary reference documents for you to use in your application. Your first step should be reading through CDFA’s materials. The information here, on Marin Resource Conservation District’s website is meant to give you easily-accessible and locally-relevant information to help you make decisions on your application and, if awarded, the design and implementation process that follows.

The table below contains the most important links to the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA’s) 2020 Healthy Soils Program Documents:

CDFA’s Healthy Soils Incentives Program 2020 Documents
Link: Program Website
Use: This website has links to the application, required application attachments, and resources such as Frequently Asked Questions. Keep an eye on this webpage for updates throughout the grant cycle.
Link: Request for Grant Applications (RGA)
Use: This document serves as the rules and guidelines of the grant. You should read through this document completely. You will find information on eligibility requirements, eligible agricultural management practices, program requirements, grant timeline, how to apply, scoring, payment rates and process, post-project requirements, etc. Specifically, see pages 5-7 for a list of eligible practices funded by the grant and page 25-48 for the payment rates, requirements, and implementation guidelines for each practice.
Link: Online Application
Use: Create a new account by clicking Sign Up to gain access to the application portal. Create a Profile by clicking on the applicable box. Then, click "Get Started". To fill out the Incentive Application, click "Edit" to the right of the title. Follow application instructions to complete.
Link: CDFA COMET-Planner Tool
Use: A tool that estimates the GHG benefit of carrying out practices of a certain acreage in a certain geographic area. Use this tool as instructed in the application to complete the the Project Budget and GHG Emission Reduction Estimation section of the application.
Link: RePlan Tool
Use: Use this tool as instructed in the Project Design section of the application. This tool will help you identify several required pieces of information including field location (APN) and size, conservation practices to be implemented, and AB 1550 Priority Populations.
Link: HSP Q&A published Feb 27, 2020 ; HSP Q&A published March 13, 2020 ; HSP Q&A published March 27, 2020 ; HSP Q&A Published April 24, 2020
Use: Answers from CDFA on questions applicants have submitted since the grant opened. May help answer questions you have had thus far in the application process.

The information in the table below will help you to fill out the various sections of your online application.

Applicant Information (for Marin County)State Assembly District: 10
Assembly Member: Marc Levine
State Senate District: 2
State Senate Member: Mike McGuire
I. Project Overview*Here are links to overview documents on some of our most common locally-used practices with information tailored to Marin County and the Healthy Soils Program application. In the linked documents, you can find example Project Descriptions, which you can, if desired, tailor to your specific farm and project, and use as the Project Description in your application.:

- MRCD's Guide to Windbreak/Shelterbelt Establishment
- NRCS Practice Overview, Windbreak/Shelterbelt
- NRCS Standard, Windbreak/Shelterbelt
- NRCS Specifications, Windbreak/Shelterbelt
- Local Design and Implementation Assistance for Planting Projects
- Online Tools to Assist in Native Plant Selection
- Native Plants Adapted to Marin County, listed by practice
- Local Native Plant Suppliers/Nurseries

- MRCD's Guide to Hedgerow Planting
- Fibershed's Guide to Hedgerow Planting
- CAFF's Hedgerow Manual
- NRCS Practice Overview, Hedgerow
- NRCS Standard, Hedgerow
- NRCS Specifications, Hedgerow
- Local Design and Implementation Assistance for Planting Projects
- Online Tools to Assist in Native Plant Selection
- Native Plants Adapted to Marin County, listed by practice
- Local Native Plant Suppliers/Nurseries

- MRCD's Guide to Riparian Forest Buffer
- NRCS Practice Overview, Riparian Buffer
- NRCS Standard, Riparian Buffer
- Local Design and Implementation Assistance for Planting Projects
- Online Tools to Assist in Native Plant Selection
- Native Plants Adapted to Marin County, listed by practice
- Local Native Plant Suppliers/Nurseries

- MRCD's Guide to Tree/Shrub Establishment
- NRCS Practice Overview, Tree/Shrub Establishment
- NRCS Standard, Tree/Shrub Establishment
- Local Design and Implementation Assistance for Planting Projects
- Online Tools to Assist in Native Plant Selection
- Native Plants Adapted to Marin County, listed by practice
- Local Native Plant Suppliers/Nurseries

- MRCD's Guide to Prescribed Grazing
- NRCS Standard, Prescribed Grazing
- NRCS Specifications, Prescribed Grazing
-Grazing Planning: Local Certified Rangeland Managers (CRMs)

- MRCD's Guide to Silvopasture
- Fibershed's Guide to Silvopasture
- NRCS Practice Overview, Silvopasture
- NRCS Standard, Silvopasture
- NRCS Diagram of Effects, Silvopasture
- Missouri NRCS Information Sheet, Silvopasture
- Photo of Example Silvopasture Set-up, True Grass
- Local Design and Implementation Assistance for Planting Projects
- Online Tools to Assist in Native Plant Selection
- Native Plants Adapted to Marin County, listed by practice
- Local Native Plant Suppliers/Nurseries

-Farms News Article: Compost Application to Rangelands
- May 11, 2020 Compost and HSP Webinar
- May 11, 2020 Compost Webinar Slides
- MRCD's Guide to Compost Application
- Marin County Compost Cost Estimate Calculator
- Fibershed's Guide to Compost Application
- Compost Application Rate, White Paper
- Local Compost Facilities, Haulers, and Spreaders List

- MRCD/MALT's Guide to Range Planting
- Marin County Range Planting Cost Estimate Calculator
- CDFA's HSP Range Planting Payment Scenarios
- Range Planting NRCS Overview
- Range Planting NRCS Practice Standard
- Current Prices and Availability of Range Planting Species Available at LeBallister’s Seed
- No-Till Seeder Rentals and Custom Seeder List

II. Project LogisticsUse the CDFA RePlan Tool. Also refer to linked documents above for more information to help you decide on which practice(s) to select for implementation.

BASELINE DATA: Cropping history refers to all crops that were grown in the fields/APNs in the past three years; management history refers to any management practices (such as compost application, tillage, cover crop, mulching, hedgerow, etc.) that were implemented in the fields/APNs in the past three years. For new farms, provide as much information you have learned from the previous landowner. Applications without necessary information for reviewers to determine practice eligibility may not be selected.
III. Project DesignUpload the report generated through the CDFA RePlan Tool.
See links to practices above and below in the “Step 3: Project Design” section of this webpage for more information. See "Native Plant Species Adapted to Marin County, Listed by Practice" for suggestions on species to select in the RePlan Tool for planting projects.

We suggest in the "Write-In" part of the RePlan tool to include the following: "The mixed species planting that has been selected consists of locally-adapted California native trees, shrubs and forbs, which are selected based on what is most suitable for the site (determined by soil, water, wind and light conditions). The plant list may be revised based on what is available at local native plant nurseries or other appropriate sources." This may allow you some extra flexibility in selecting plant species upon project implementation, if needed.

NOTE: If the plant species changes from what you and CDFA agree upon in the executed grant agreement, a formal project change request form will have to be completed by the grant recipient and submitted to CDFA for approval.
IV. Work PlanDownload, complete, and upload the Work Plan Template.
V. Project Budget and GHG Reduction EstimateComplete and upload the COMET-PLANNER Report. Save your completed report as "Application ID number_Applicant Operation_CDFA_HSP_COMET-Planner_Report", example of file name: 1234567_SmithFarms_CDFA_HSP_COMET-Planer_Report.
VI. Conservation Plan (optional)(Optional, for additional points).Upload your farm’s Conservation Plan—if you have one. A Conservation Plan must be prepared by an NRCS specialist, an NRCS-trained individual
or entity, a certified Crop Advisor, a certified Professional Soil Scientist, or a certified
Professional Agronomist--including an NRCS Conservation Plan, Carbon Farm Plan (click on links to see explanations/examples of these plans), etc. *We do not know if Dairy Nutrient Management Plans will be awarded extra points, but are worth attaching to your application, if you have one.
VIII. Benefits to Socially Disadvantaged Groups and/or AB 1550 Priority PopulationsStep 1a. and 1c.: According to the census maps, there are NO disadvantaged communities in Marin County. Your answer to this question should be NO.
Step 1b. According to the census maps there are low-income communities in Marin. If your project is in a low-income community and will target jobs, you may be able to select YES. See CDFA’s integrated application input tool to check.

This link has a map with all the priority populations identified.
IX. Additional AttachmentsName all of the submitted attachments using the 7 digit application ID number found at the top of the page, name of Applicant operation, and the document title. For example, 1234567_Applicant Operation_WorkPlan.

Make sure to attach these documents to your application.

Required for everyone:
 Project Work Plan Template
 Report generated by the RePlan tool
 CDFA HSP COMET-Planner Report

Optional for extra points:
 A Conservation Plan

Required, if applicable:
 Landowner Agreement
 A Conservation Plan for Riparian Herbaceous Cover and/or Riparian Forest Buffer practices
 A Grazing Management Plan for Prescribed Grazing Practice
 Supporting Documents showing that the project provides benefits to AB 1550 Priority Populations
*SCORING*Before submitting: cross-check your application against the “Detailed Scoring Criteria” (p. 23-24 of the 2020 Request for Grant Applications) to make sure you have included all information needed to receive the highest possible score.

STEP 2: Scoring/Award

Click here for more information about the Scoring/Award Process


We recommend submitting your application as soon as possible, as it will be reviewed in the order it is submitted to CDFA. If you lose points in an area and are denied funding, you may edit your application and re-submit the application to be re-considered, if before the June 26, 2020 deadline, and funding has not run out.

Below is a table of the scoring criteria from page 23-24 of the Request for Grant Applications (RGA). You must score a minimum of 40 points to be considered for funding.

If you are awarded funding, CDFA will schedule a pre-project consultation to discuss the project work plan, management practices, APN/Field, materials/plant selection, implementation, and budget (via e-mail or phone call). Following consultation, you will then execute a grant agreement with CDFA.

You must begin your project prior to Decemeber 31st in each project year. Woody planting projects must have a project life of 10 years. All other projects must have a life of 3 years.

STEP 3: Project Design

Click here for more information about the Project Design Process

If you are awarded a Healthy Soils Program Incentives Program Grant, and are a Marin County producer, we would be happy to provide you with one-on-one assistance to create a site-specific project design. Project designs take into account site conditions, material availability and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service practice standards and specifications that must be upheld. We have collected some resources to assist you in designing your own project, with or without assistance. Click on the links below to see more.

Grazing Planning: Local Certified Rangeland Managers (CRMs)

>Local Compost Facilities, Spreaders, and Haulers

>Local Design and Implementation Assistance for Planting Projects (Hedgerow, Riparian Forest, Silvopasture)

>Online Guides and Tools to Assist in Native Plant Selection

> Native Plant Species Adapted to Marin County, Listed by Practice

>Native Plant Suppliers/Nurseries

STEP 4: Project Construction/Implementation

Plan ahead for this part of the project. E-mail for a list of local contractors, if needed.

STEP 5: Project Monitoring/Reporting

Refer to Grant Guidelines for more information. Annual soil sampling and maintenance (such as weeding a planting) are required for at least 3 years. Regular reports required.